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“We are riding the new history of cycling” – Marta Cavalli, winner of Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition (2022) and La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (2022).

It’s been over a year since the second edition of Paris–Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift which saw Zwift join as a presenting partner and we have just witnessed a very successful second edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift”. This also saw Zwift take a central supporting role in the relaunch of the Women’s edition of the Tour de France in its capacity as the main event in the UCI Women’s World Tour.  The landscape of Women’s cycling is evolving and supporting the evolution is Zwift.  Using the data provided by Zwift and Nielsen Sports and my own research I have explored this in greater detail.

Television coverage

As was widely reported by organisers of the event, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) (who also run the Tour de France), the average television audiences for the 8 stages of the 2022 edition of Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, on France 2 and 3 were 2.25 million, with viewing numbers peaking to 5.1 million.  This equates to 45.6% audience share on 31st July 2022, the finish of the race at the Super Planche des Belles Filles.  And those numbers are just the television viewing data. The digital audience saw an additional 600,000 views on the (Live) Race Center of the event and 22 million views of videos on digital platforms.

In 2023, these figures remained strong, with average French audience viewing figures for each stage on free-to-air (FTA) channels France 2 and France 3 being 2 million viewers, peaking at 4.3 million during stage 7.  There was a total of 20 million viewers on public service broadcaster France Télévisions.  Eurosport reported that their coverage of the race had a viewer reach of nearly 15 million, a 7.14% increase on 2022 and 4.5 million visits were noted on the official website, an increase of 60.7% on 2022.

However, the biggest increase was on social media where there were 74.4 million views.  Of this half came from TikTok, which represented a 238% per cent increase.

It is evident that this recent incarnation of the Women’s Tour de France is outperforming the previous event which was a one / two-day race called “La Course by Le Tour de France,” and held between 2014 and 2021. 

Data Trends

Prior to the start of the 2023 event, Zwift published a report using data from Nielsen Sports. Data analysis highlighted that “the amount of social posts, reach and engagement for the top 5 women’s cycling races grew by over 300% in 2022 vs. 2021.  This was a result of the introduction of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift”, indicating a significant increase in interest in the sport, attributed to the increased exposure. When social media data is examined in detail, there is a significant spike in the number of followers the riders obtained across the different social media platforms during the period of the Tour, with a noted 8.4% increase, during the period of the Tour. This was also reflected in the followers for the Teams, with a 4.3% increase.

In two of the three countries where viewership was high, Women’s Cycling has already significant events established. In France there is the “Tour de France Femmes,” and in Spain there is “La Vuelta Femenina by,” which has grown year-on-year and both events are successful. 

In May, Spain hosted the “La Vuelta Femenina by,” which was televised on numerous platforms and saw competitive and close racing across 7 stages. This saw Annemiek van Vleuten winning by 9 seconds.  The event was full of stars including Marta Cavalli, who finished 13th overall.  The event has been steadily growing since its inception in 2015.

In contrast in the UK the “Women’s Tour”, the UK’s equivalent to the “Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift”, has sadly been postponed in 2023 and as the official announcement stated “will take a one-year hiatus in 2023”.  This is because of “a combination of increased running costs (approximately 20% higher in comparison to the 2022 race) and a reduced level of commercial support, it has proved impossible to deliver the event that was proposed for June.”  Peter Hodges, Public Relations & Marketing Director of SweetSpot Group, who are responsible for organising the event, explained that “even attempts at crowdfunding of £100,000 fell short of the desired amount.”

Despite the UK not hosting a Women’s cycling event in 2023, according to the data captured by Nielsen Sports “across all eight markets, women’s cycling popularity grew from 39% to 42% but this increase was most notable in France, UK and Australia”. If this data trend is to be believed this means that hopefully it will only be a one-year hiatus for the UK’s “Women’s Tour” as there will be significant interest to support the event in the future.  In terms of participation in the sport, the Australian Cycling Federation commented that their membership of women is “tracking well so far in ’23” and that they are “working hard to create new pathways for women to enter the sport, and Zwift is a great avenue.” I wouldn’t like to classify this as a European phenomenon but it is certainly developing strong support on the European scene.


Through greater support of Women’s cycling events, it is clear that there is an increasing interest. If it mirrors the trajectory of Men’s cycling, as witnessed over the last two decades, there will be steady growth and hopefully a boom, as seen in 2012 in the UK which culminated in Sir Bradley Wiggins winning the 2012 edition of the “Tour de France.” 

It would be short sighted to think that the increased coverage of Women’s cycling would result in instant growth. Things are never that immediate but hopefully the strong viewing figures in 2023 shows that there is sustained interest which will result in organic growth. If this is the case then Zwift will have played a significant part through their investment in both “Paris–Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift” and “Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift”, helping to raise the profile of Women’s cycling.